5th Grade // Athletes As Leaders of Social Change

For us, it all started with Jackie Robinson...

For him, it started on January 31, 1919. A man who would someday be a legend was born. He worked hard and was a talented athlete, but he lived during the Jim Crow Era. This meant that his opportunities were limited. However, on April 15,1947 Jackie had a great opportunity to join the Brooklyn Dodgers. Branch Rickey gave him the chose him to join the Dodgers not only because he was a talented athlete, but also because he had strong character. His personality confidence and leadership made him the right man for the job.

There were many factors in Jackie’s success as a leader of social change. Some of them were people around him like family friends and fans. Others were the historical context of his time and of course, his habits of character. With lots of hate mail and all the racism going on throughout the country, his family supported him and kept him sane so he could change the world. One of the other factors in his success was that he had strong habits of character. He had respect for himself and others. He had courage and faith in our free society.


Almost exactly 99 years after Jackie was born, our 5th grade class started reading about him and learning about his legacy. Jackie believed that “A life is not important except on the impact it has on other lives.” He inspired athletes long after his time, and their stories have inspired us. This book is our way of making an impact on others’ lives. In the pages of our book you will read about barrier breakers, athletes who have carried on Jackie’s legacy by being great leaders of social change.

Every part of this publication was student driven. Students selected the athlete that they found most inspiring. Students created the artwork with Ms. Brott through a process of multiple drafts and revisions. They also conducted research, and created an annotated bibliography based on their learning.  They wrote the introduction, voted to select a title, created a table of contents, and decided that we wanted to sell our book not for profit, but to share the stories of these inspiring leaders of social change.

We ordered a few copies of our book for our classroom and our school library. If you would like you very own copy of our students’ work, the book is available for sale online. We hope that you enjoy it.